Purim begins tonight. A holiday of frivolity and fun — we are bidden to enjoy! — it carries messages that are so relevant for us today: The threat of extinction of the Jewish people overcome and enemies destroyed.
It says in the Megillah, which is read tonight and tomorrow, that after the Jews were saved there was light and rejoicing. They went from mourning to gladness. So may it be for us.
A Purim Sameach to those celebrating , and a good Easter to my Christian friends.
Posting: March 19, 2008
"Israeli Arabs, Germans, and More"
I wrote recently about the fact that Arabs living inside of Israel are in some instances sympathetic to our enemies and in a smaller number of instances actively supportive. The issue arose with particular potency after the massacre at Yeshivat Mercaz Harav. In several respects I feel it is important to return to this issue for further exploration.
There were readers (a few) who expressed concern that Israel not come down too hard on those living here who are sympathetic to Hamas; they focused on rights that adhere in a democracy, which must be protected. Israel should not act — or be seen to act — in ways that are repressive. I would like to address that.
Israel, if anything, bends over backwards to be tolerant of those expressing anti-Israel sentiment. In my opinion (even as an American born and bred, coming out of liberal traditions), I believe this has been too much the case. It’s maddening when Arab MKs express support for those wishing to attack us.
And I hasten to assure those who are concerned about these issues that there is no intention within the government to take wholesale repressive actions against the Arab population.
However, we are dealing with situations that are literally existential, and it is time to examine seriously, and without concern for what is politically correct, what potential dangers lurk within the Arab Israeli population, and what measures might be required to protect the nation.
One reader referred to the time of the Vietnam war , and the fact that those protesting it — including by burning American flags — were permitted their freedoms. My response was that, while those protestors could — and in fact did — affect the outcome of the war, there was no possibility of their bringing about the destruction of the US. Here the risks are far more immediate.
It remains important, as we look at this issue , to differentiate between various Arab populations — something I did not do sufficiently before. Caroline Glick addressed this recently.
There are, for example, the Druze, who are loyal Israeli citizens who universally serve in the IDF, and the Bedouin, who are renowned as army trackers. There are Christian Arabs who flourish here in Israel and have no history of violence. And non-Arab Muslims, such as Circassians, who are integrated into Israeli society.
And then there is the difference between those living here as full citizens from the time of the War of Independence, as versus those in Jerusalem given residency status following our acquisition of eastern Jerusalem in 1967 and thereafter. (There is talk now about limiting the right of those resident in Jerusalem to move freely about the country.)
Glick is of the opinion that the problem lies with the leaders of the Arab community. The MKs, for certain. And the Higher Monitoring Committee, which I mentioned. There is as well the Islamic Movement in Israel, which is inciteful and has been involved in violent incidents. They are making inroads even in the Bedouin community.
The project to encourage Muslims Arabs who do not serve in the Israeli army to instead do national service provides a key example of how the Arab leadership intimidates. They have warned that anyone who participates in this project — which makes them Israeli and "robs" them of their Palestinian identity — will be ostracized by the community. Thus are young people who might be sincerely interested in participating discouraged.
And what of the general Arab Muslim population? As I indicated before, many are surely innocent of malign intentions towards the State, and want only to exist peacefully. But the leadership has turned many heads and made it a mark of disloyalty to the Palestinian people to be too much immersed in Israeli society. This is a problem in particular regarding the Arabs in eastern Jerusalem.
There has been a good deal of information coming out about the very quiet but strong sympathy for Hamas and for the terrorist Ala’a Abu Dheim in his neighborhood of Jebl Mukaber. No one can deny the impact of this situation on the Jewish population of Jerusalem.
After the massacre, the family of Abu Dheim set up a mourning tent. While they were required to remove the banners for Hamas and Hezbollah, the tent itself was permitted to stand. There were even comments here from Israeli officials — that did not sit well in many quarters — that the family had a right to mourn.
There was an official attempt made to take down the family’s house but that never happened because of legal considerations that blocked this action.
So much for concerns about the Arabs not being accorded their rights.
In fact, there was a considerable response in just the opposite direction: concern that this family of a terrorist was being accorded all together too much consideration.
In this spirit, several hundred right wing activists , on Sunday, gathered in Talpiot, adjacent to the Jebl Mukaber neighborhood, with the declared intention of first protesting and then moving into the Arab neighborhood to take down the house of the terrorist’s family. There was, it should be noted, no call whatsoever for violence against persons.
A large cadre of police met them and for the most part blocked them. But some young people made it down the hill to the Arab area, and, inevitably, there was stone-throwing (apparently from both sides) before arrests were made.
For the record, while I have full sympathy with their position , I regretted this action, which I see as counterproductive to the goals of expressing Jewish rights. Such confrontations, even when reasonably mild, fuel false accusations of crazy right wing intentions to kill Arabs.
As to false accusations: After the massacre, there were rumors that rabbis from the yeshiva had sanctioned attacks on Arabs as retribution. In particular, Sheikh Raed Salah, the head of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch, told supporters that he had been warned of plans to assassinate him.
The Shin Bet, however, after investigation , said these claims were baseless.
Salah is a trouble-maker, big-time, and this seems clearly a case of incitement.
Meanwhile a rabbi from the Ateret Kohanim Yeshiva in the Old City was stabbed in the neck by an Arab.
A house that was destroyed was that of terrorist Muhammad Shehadeh, taken out by Israel in Bethlehem last week. And guess who has announced intentions to rebuild it? The Palestinian Authority.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the Knesset yesterday, in spite of being boycotted by four MKs who objected to her speaking in German. Her words were moving as she spoke about German hearts filled with shame because of the Holocaust and the special German responsibility to work for Israel’s security, which she tied to issues of Iranian threats. A n
uclear Iran would be disastrous, she declared.
But all is not sweetness and light here. German trades significantly with Iran and appeases radical Muslims. What is more, from exceedingly well informed sources I’ve learned of the growing and very worrisome anti-Semitism in Germany.
See Caroline Glick on Germany as an appeaser , and Israel as an appeaser of Germany, helping to play the game:
I’ve written about the meddling into our security situation of US military envoys and of Defense Minister Barak’s deliberate and laudable snubbing of a meeting with American generals because of his pique with them.
Now JINSA has put out a report (# 756) applauding Barak , as well, and taking a hard look at the way in which the US is interfering in Israel’s security issues:
"The American generals appear to have three complaints – Israel is not sharing enough intelligence with the Palestinian Security Services; IDF security operations in the West Bank are driving terrorists into the Palestinian-controlled areas, accounting for the inability of the Palestinian Authority to maintain order; and Israel refuses to institute new security procedures (removing checkpoints) as ‘peace negotiations move forward.’
"This is a blatant American attempt to a) interfere with the Israeli government’s obligation to secure the people of Israel, and; b) blame Israel for the increasing anarchy in the West Bank. We strongly believe it is the result of demands by the State Department for the military envoys to make ‘progress’ toward the independent Palestinian State to which the administration is committed – regardless of circumstances on the ground.
"The American military professionals appear frustrated by their inability to create any kind of reliable security force among the Palestinians. That they can’t is understandable, but that isn’t Israel’s problem. Israel has to deal with a well-understood threat to its people and cannot subcontract out the work to semi-reformed terrorists in Fatah."